Kathleen's United Pentecostal Church Experience
How astounding it is to read of wonderful, God-struck and searching souls leaving the super religious, self righteous environment of the UPC for walks in true spirituality!
I took this fearful and daunting step many years ago, after seeing my husband (a young minister at the time) repeatedly mistreated and put down by the "Powers that Be" in the church. I knew how hard he prayed and studied over every message he brought- sometimes for weeks at a time- only to be given 15 minutes to speak by our glory hogging, pulpit proud pastor. And often this same pastor would get up behind him and tear down everything he had taught, point by point.
My husband had a deep, teaching ministry- he was not a Bible pounder or loud in any way- but had scripture to back everything he said. Our pastor said he "lacked zeal" because he didn't clone his ministry after his! He worked 9 - 12 hours, 6 days a week to support our family and was always there for visitation, boards, work (building programs, yard work, etc.) but because he didn't shout and show theatrical enthusiasm while preaching, he was judged as having no zeal for the ministry. Go figure.
I kept my yard (our house was on a corner) and house immaculate and was told I could not wear my jeans even to do work requiring bending and squatting down- this with two little boys around me at all times! I had been outside working one day in a dress and the Holy Spirit convicted me of immodesty. I went in and put on some jeans and a loose, long-tailed shirt and proceeded to finish my work. I felt so much better covered up and MODEST!!
Then one of the ladies from the church pulled up to the stop sign adjacent to our yard, tooted her horn to get my attention, and wagged her finger at me in admonition. I was standing there- IN MY JEANS- enjoying the fruit of my labors and the handiwork of God in in the beauty of the day all around me- and this person threw a wet blanket over the whole thing with her judgmental actions. I knew being seen outside in pants would be reported to the church and I was knocked down spiritually. Then it dawned on me that it was ridiculous for me - as a Christian - to be crestfallen by what MAN had to say about me!! God wasn't convicting me about my jeans. Indeed, He had told me to put them on- Sister So & So was the one who was condemning me.
I also had wanted to cut the ends of my hair and the pastor flatly forbade it. I had come to the Lord from the world with dyed, short hair. As it grew, the end 2-3" were a brassy color and dead. This kept my hair splitting and unhealthy. I wanted to cut it to healthy growth- this had been done while I was still in the world and it served as a constant reminder of that time. He told me, "The wages of sin is death, Sister, and you will just have to live with that dead hair." Isn't this ridiculous?
We saw people dis-fellowshipped and shunned- one lady had been divorced by her husband- she hadn't wanted the divorce and had fought it- but was forbidden to hold any office or teach because UPC rules stipulated no divorced person could hold a position in the church. This lady was living celibate but that didn't matter- she still was treated as sort of a pariah anyway.
The church was more a museum for saints than it was a hospital for broken souls! Didn't Jesus teach that the hallmarks of a Christian are forgiveness and being non-judgmental?
Once some teenagers stumbled into the church, high on something, and sat in the back pew. They weren't being loud but they weren't being "Holy" either. You guessed it- they were sent away and told not to come back until they could "act right". Now, tell me, how is this ever going to happen if they can't sit in a church and HEAR THE WORD?? And let the Holy Spirit convict them of their erroneous lifestyles?
I could go on but there's better things to do than live in that dismal part of my life. We left UPC after 3 years- my husband never did get his ministerial license with them- it seemed no matter how hard he worked he could never "prove" himself to the pastor and that man had to refer him to the board. Later, he was credentialed by the IMA - another "Oneness" organization that we stayed with for many years.We have worshipped in Spirit filled churches of all denominations- if God doesn't care what kind of sign is hung over the door, why should we? The Lord seeks those who will worship Him "In spirit and in truth."
Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. I support what you are trying to do. I wish there had been some kind of a support group in place when we walked away from UPC.
In His Love and Peace,
Posted March 16, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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